Most people worry about their fat. Either because of how it makes them appear or because of how it could contribute to diabetes or heart disease. People rarely consider that fat tissue could impact the rate of aging. However, as we get older, this is the first organ to exhibit age-related decline: dead cells accumulate, creating a detrimental pro-inflammatory environment, and live cells become less functional. Furthermore, adipose-targeted therapies that remove dead cells or restore the live cell’s metabolic function , confer whole-body rejuvenation benefits. Despite fat’s evident role in driving whole-body aging, the mechanism that initiates fat aging was, until recently, unknown.

Researchers at Columbia University solved this mystery by examining fat tissue for differential accumulation of antibodies, molecules that are usually produced to detect and neutralize pathogens in circulation. When they compared old versus young mice, they saw that antibodies accumulated specifically in the fat tissue of aged mice. This antibody infiltration was relevant to fat-mediated aging as reducing the antibodies in circulation improved fat tissue function while also prolonging lifespan and health span.

Hence, the study suggests that inhibiting antibody infiltration in fat tissue could be a potential strategy for rejuvenation therapeutics. Because aging is a risk factor for cancer, neurodegeneration, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders, this approach not only promises to maybe one day prevent hair graying, but also to prevent many deleterious diseases. Staying healthy in the later years of life would allow greater productivity and independence, overall improving life quality.

This study was performed at Columbia University by postdoctoral fellow Lexiang Yu (PhD) in the lab of Li Qiang (MD, PhD), associate professor of Pathology and Cell Biology.

Managing Correspondent: Allegra Carlotta Scarpa

Review Article: Adipose tissue aging is regulated by an altered immune system (Frontiers)

Original Journal Article: IgG is an aging factor that drives adipose tissue fibrosis and metabolic decline (Cell Metabolism)

Image Credit: iStock

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